Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Maria in the Mainframe - Part 1

A brief note of explanation. In 2000, during a very rough time in my life - no work and the near break up of a long relationship, I started writing a story about my niece. Though only two years old, she frequently played with old computers my dad had lying around. From that, a story took root and I fleshed it out a bit, off and on, that summer. Fractured Fairy Tales + Dr. Seuss were employed as additional influences.

Five years later, and I dusted off that relatively incomplete story to finish it. It became a homemade XMas as I baked - yes, baked - Snickerdoodles for my sis (Dad's mom always made them for the holidays), and I gave my mom a CD I'd made of seasonal faves she could play through winter. (80 minutes of Sleigh Bells, Winter Wonderland, I Love the Winter Weather, etc.)

And this? I polished and polished until my polisher was sore. And then, I drew some very crude drawings for it. I printed it + also put it on a disc for her. I even sent copies to my clients. It was my fave XMas.

It's a long story. The rhymes are forced in places, etc. But it was one of the only poems I wrote during a very, very long hiatus from poems. Here is the first part of the story. NB: it is written in Canadian English, so you may need an interpreter...

Once upon a time
As all good stories go
On the outskirts of town
In a small bungalow
Just off the highway
Where a slim river ran
There lived a young girl
Named Maria Suzanne
She had a round face
With a cute button nose
A mop of brown hair
And ten perfect toes

Now Maria liked many things
As little girls do
Playing outdoors and reading
And colouring too
She liked riding her bike
With the pretty pink trim
And when it was warm
Maria went for a swim
She liked swinging on swings
And she liked to pretend
But most of all she liked visiting
Her grandparents each weekend

One Saturday near Christmas
Much like the rest
Clutching her stuffed bunny Bing
To her chest
All pink-cheeked and pretty
Maria Suzanne
Drove with her parents
In the family van
To Grammy and Grampy’s
At quarter past eight
They left her there, promising
They wouldn’t be late

Well, Maria was happy
Who wouldn’t be?
Spending the day with their
Grammy and Grampy
But today was different
Maria could see
That Grammy and Grampy
Were both very busy
Grammy was baking
And had cards to write
While Grampy fixed a computer
That wouldn’t work right

So Grampy was busy
And Grammy was too
And poor little Maria
Had nothing to do
So what did she do?
Well, right about then
She crept off unnoticed
Toward grampy’s den

“Everyone is too busy
Too busy to play
Maybe they want me
To just go away
Well I will,” said Maria
“I have no fear
I’d rather be anywhere
Anywhere but here!”
So into the den
Maria quietly crept
And over to the desk
Where Grammy’s cat slept
There was grampy’s computer
A wondrous thing
She pulled up a chair
And sat down with Bing

And as she sat there
By the computer, thinking
Maria noticed that
The cursor was blinking
Well Maria had often
Watched Grampy at work
As he built computers
And ironed out quirks
And it had occurred
To this little girl
That computers had modems
That link to the world
She’d seen Grampy do it
A time or two
And if he could do it
Well, Maria could too

But how to do it
Well, that was a task
And everyone was far
Too busy to ask
So Maria just typed
And the words that appeared?
‘I wish I were anywhere,
Anywhere but here’

Then she hit enter
And a voice it replied
“I’ll take you anywhere
Once you’re inside”
“Who said that?” Cried Maria
As she leapt from the chair
She looked round the room
But no one was there
“I said, ‘who said that?’”
She looked where she’d been
And saw a face had appeared
On the computer screen
“Come closer Maria,”
The voice called her by name
She did and the scanner
Scanned her into the mainframe...

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